For the first time, the Hardin-Simmons University Chapel Band has written and released an original song.
Tiffany Stotts, instructor of Worship leadership at HSU, also oversees the HSU Chapel Band. Over the spring and summer seasons, the chapel team wrote an original song together. This song was a group idea that had been thrown around for some time.t. It required lots of planning and effort from the chapel team leaders, and the process was basically an experiment since it had not been done before. The end result, titled “Here I Am,” represents a true group effort that is now available on music streaming platforms.
The basis for “Here I Am” is when God calls, we answer by saying, “God here I am.” This response is based on the story of Samuel from 1 Samuel, chapter three. Samuel was a young boy living in a temple at the time, and he was sleeping when he heard someone call out his name. Samuel ran to his teacher Eli and said “I am here.” Eli tells Samuel he did not call for him. After this happens a few times, Eli realizes that the voice is God calling out to Samuel, and he tells Samuel that next time he hears someone call his name say, “Yes Lord, your servant is listening.”
There are two different recordings of the song available, the studio recording and a live recording from the Logsdon Chapel. “It was really cool because we got the real studio process,” Tiffany said. “Recording it is crafting something in and of itself.”
In the studio version of “Here I Am,” each instrument and vocal part was recorded individually. The parts were layered in the final process of the project. In this recording they didn’t use much autotune so the vocals would sound more real to the people streaming via online platforms. The worship team was able to do this with the help of Craig Stotts, Tiffany's husband, a pastor at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church.
The live recording at Logsdon was a little different than the studio recording, described as being “kind of like a music video” by Tiffany. In this recording of the song, they played and sang all together at the same time. Evan McGrew, a graduate from Hardin-Simmons, helped film it and Craig helped edit the live version.
Initial reactions to the song have been very positive, and the song has been played live numerous times in various venues in Abilene. Tiffany says as people learn it, they tend to like it and listen to it a bit more. She also shared that it felt really cool seeing people engage with it and singing along to it when the band plays it at Pioneer Drive.
Tiffany indicated that there will be plans for a new song in the future. The plan at present is to produce another song at least every four years. The worship team will need to have the time and resources for such a project, from the early steps of songwriting to the final stages of production and recording.
The Chapel Band is open to all students and new vocalists, instrumentalists and audio-visual assistants are always welcome to join. In addition to the Chapel Band, HSU recently started offering a degree designed specifically for people who want to go onto the field of worship leading or songwriting called the worship leadership degree. Tiffany can be contacted about both of these opportunities.
Several HSU students were involved in the production of this song: Kenna Hall (vocalist) who is a senior psychology major from Comanche, Katie Henderson (vocalist) who is a junior EC-6 education major from Decatur. Samatha Eberle (vocalist) who is a Senior communication sciences and disorders major from San Antonio, Annabelle Smallwood (piano/keyboard) who is a senior strategic communications major from Paris, Daron Pacheoco (electric guitar) who is a junior finance major from Denver City, Braden Galvan (drums) who is a senior strategic communications major from College Station, and Josh Seca (bass) who is now an HSU alumni with a degree in Marketing from Abilene.